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Rollable Cooling Box

My family and I are always outside in summer. The patio is our go-to place and the barbecue is the main reason why. There is nothing more annoying than constantly "having to make supply runs" on a great evening with friends and acquaintances. So why can't I build a fridge on the patio?

Step 1 - Material

First, I bought the "interior" of the bar fridge at the hardware supply store around the corner.

The plastic tubs and buckets are naturally suitable for food and very robust. They also specify the final inner dimensions. The battery cooling systems are very wide and lower the (cold) temperature quickly. 

I acquired the wood for this project from old pallets that I broke down. This requires a great deal of work during preparation.  Until the actual project can start, it takes me a while to prepare the material, but it does not cost me anything. 

After the wood was measured, it was cut. This had to done using a circular table saw and a chop saw.

Step 2 - side parts

A small phase has been put on the overhead template router of each board, to differentiate the individual boards from one another, which should be glued together to a panel together and to give some structure to the whole thing. 

Ultimately, all the phases were on and I was able to glue the panels to one another.  And once again I realize that there can simply never be enough constraints in a workshop…

Wood glue is usually not so suitable for outdoor use and I also wanted to prevent the panels from being "warped" quickly due to weather and temperature differences, i.e. that they twist and consequently destroy the box.  So, I have screwed together the "closer" on the rear side.

Step 3 - Inner workings

Ledges should be mounted to the side parts, in which containers can be hung.  Take the check the associated measurement before proceeding.

I wanted to have as few visible screws as possible, so I had to take exact measurements and fit a frame: This means lots of measurements and predrilling. But the effort is worth it: you have an exact fitting interior for the mini-bar!

The next item on the agenda is the battery cooling systems that had to be housed.For the holders, I chose metal as it is sturdy and conducts temperature well. 1.7 mm steel sheet were marked and bent while held by a vise.

Before everything had been screwed, I wanted to be on the safe side once again and make a "dry" check before starting:

The closers, which should prevent the individual boards from being "warped", additionally offer ideal stops for the individual components. Gluing and screwing takes place much faster.

I have opted for butt joints. The box will be exposed to a lot of wind and weather and the wood will take a beating, so I thought that waterproof wood glue is an excellent choice in as opposed to stainless steel screws.

I have lined the interior of the box with 20 mm Polystyrene. Those who do not want to glue (as I did) must be very precise.I cut the Styrofoam with a band saw and a keen blade. This fared better and cleaner than I had thought it would be.

I had to line each panel exactly to keep the cooling loss as low as possible.

Step 4 - The lid

The lid flap became quite heavy and the hinges had to be sized accordingly.

I have attached a catch-strap so that an uncontrolled "falling backwards" is prevented.  A sturdy workshop rope and a bit of binding wire is sufficient to attach an eyelet. And you’re done!

Step 5 - The substructure

The cooler has a certain amount of weight, even when empty, so the base must be adequately sturdy. I decided for struts that I could get from the pallets.  

Even here, I have seamlessly connected the individual parts. Only one side of the base should have rollers, so I had to make the other side longer to be the same as the height of roller. I have installed trestle rollers made of hard plastic. They are very stable and, in this case, rigid. 


The two side panels were then attached with boards, offering additional storage space under the cooler. Here you can put additional boxes. I have used only glue and screws, even for this part.

BEFORE I put on the boxes, I had to also pre-drill the holes that connect the base firmly with the cooler. 

The base consists of 10x10 beams. Therefore, I had to first pre-drill with the commercially available drill and then drill through with a timber drill.

Step 6 - The finish

Instead of varnish, I stained the wood: This protects the wood but leaves the pores open so that any moisture trapped inside can eventually escape.

A former bath handle is used to open the hatch. It fits well with the overall look.

Overall, it’s "only" a box, but looks can be deceiving. It was a really exhausting and challenging project. Less on artisanal side and more questions like: "What material do I use for this or that...?" 

Ultimately, I am proud that I succeeded and I am finally happy to have, right next to my barbecue, access to chilled .... water.
Christian Lill
AuthorChristian Lill
Reading time15 minutes

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